Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Friendly Questions concerning Leadership

All this week I feel like I have had conversations with young people about spiritual authority and covering and proper response to those two. For those of you who know me, we could probably agree that I may at times, have strong opinions about what the Bible says on the issue. With the statement "error is truth out of balance" as a premise from which to work, I have determined to turn to the blogging community for possible balance on several issues.
What is the proper response to:
1. known sin in a leaders life?
2. said leader rejecting the Matthew 18:15-18 protocol (and if it is not a senior pastor, the senior pastor doesn't bring correction either...i.e., the sin is overlooked by leadership)?
3. alcohol consumption in the life a leader? (sin? not sin?)
4. leaders who continue in slander and gossip?

Knowing that I may be out of balance on any of the above enumerated, I appeal to you faithful bloggers o' wisdom to come to my aid.

- Caleb

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey Caleb, this is Ginger. Since you appealed to "bloggers", (which I am not) I hesitate to respond to your posts although I have strong opinions. I am however excited to see that you and Ashley are living in Nampa as I am living and working in Boise. I am struggling with finding a church at the moment and was wondering where you attend?
Hope all is well,
Ginger

Caleb and Ashley Brown said...

Ginger, glad to hear from you. Call me immediately when you get this...my number is 208.571.7286. Youth church is Wednesdays nights (ages 12-26) and normal church is Sunday mornings. Call me either way, my wife and I would love to take you to coffee at the very least. Look forward to hearing from you!

Luke & Kristin said...

Without getting into a theological debate...
Romans 14:
"13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother's way. 14 As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. 15 If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died. 16 Do not allow what you consider good to be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.."
at some point you have to trust God to be God in other peoples' lives, and not take on that responsibility (not speaking to you personally, just in general..) if someone has asked you to keep them accountable, given you a place of authority/leadership in their life, and are submitting to your leadership than you obviously have a place to speak your convictions in their life.
However, as a peer, or someone not voluntarily given that position, you have to let God speak to them on His own (prayer/intercession is always a good choice).
I used to go round & round with my friend Greg in Albuquerque about the drinking issue.. he was one of the high school pastors, but he enjoyed having a beer in his own home. His reasoning was that there was nothing prohibiting him from having a drink (he was of age, and not getting drunk) and he wasn't doing it in front of the kids that were looking up to him (for whom it WOULD have been illegal). My response was always that there was no reason to even let there be a chance of it causing someone to sin.
For instance, what if someone came over to his house that had a problem with drinking; saw alcohol in his fridge, and was then convinced that it was "ok" for them to start drinking again.
Or what if what one of the high schoolers saw it when they were at his house and thought "if our pastor does it, it must be ok."
We always debated in love and respect, (I trusted his relationship with God and respected his passion and vice versa) but we never came to an agreement on what would be biblically accurate.
This is the same friend that I used to spend hours with talking about women in ministry, baptism of the Holy Spirit, spiritual gifts, etc..
Going into this relationship, I always just believed what I did about these things because I had seen the power & fruit of them in my own life.. having these "debates" with Greg forced me to spend tons of time studying out these things so that I could have a biblical basis for what I had experienced. Because there are a lot of cooky people that base doctrine on "experience" and not on Truth.
wow, this is getting long..
the point is..
what I have learned, through all of those talks/debates/studying/life experience is that there are people on every side of every issue relating to the things of God. People that truly love Jesus with everything they have, people that study until they can't see straight, people that want God's best at all cost... and they come to different conclusions..
that leads me to the same bottom line - we don't get to know all of the answers..
going back to my original statement..
if you are causing someone to sin - it's wrong. If God has told you to stop, and you don't - it's wrong. If the bible specifically prohibits the action/behavior - it's wrong. If you are unsure on an issue, study the Word & ask God, THEN ask leadership, THEN study other scholars opinions, THEN again ask God.. take everything you've learned, from other people, from scholars, from what you've read, and ask Him to weed out the false teachings, to shine light on His best for life.

and last - but DEFINITELY not least, don't force your convictions on other people. "I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean."
So much of our growth in the Lord is through figuring things out on our "own" with Him. Letting Him do His work in our life... not letting someone else do His work in our life.

sorry that was long.. it wasn't my intention

Luke & Kristin said...

and I realize that I mostly only covered the alcohol consumption question...
but based on the length of just 1 response.. I don't think I'll conquer the other 3 ;-)

John, Christina, and Hannah said...

I'll keep this short sort of, and with that being said realize I may not cover every possibility in my answers so if there is ANY confusion... please don't assume just ask me! =)

1. known sin in a leaders life? If you know them and have a relationship with them, approach them. This is what I would want. It may be that they are being deceived and don't realize they are doing it, they may be having trouble stopping the sin but don't know how to approach someone for help, or may even think they are hiding it... if this is the case it needs to be brought out into the light, and last they may have a plan and are going strong in stopping the sin and making total progress which may not be visible to outside parties. So again, if you have a relationship... aproach them, find out more. If there is no relationship, pray for them, God will help them. Unless they are placing themselves or someone in danger... Or if they are comprimising the ministry. If so, approach one of their leaders who has a relationship with them asking for counsel on the situation. Main point pray for them... the Holy Spirit will do the rest.

2. said leader rejecting the Matthew 18:15-18 protocol (and if it is not a senior pastor, the senior pastor doesn't bring correction either...i.e., the sin is overlooked by leadership)?

Explain to your senior pastor that you don't understand his/her reasoning for not bringing correction. First checking your motives... are you involved or just nosey? He probably knows more than you and is doing what he is or isn't doing for a reason. If the senior pastor is a man of God walking in God's authority in the right place and not bringing correction I imagine there is an awful good reason... something that may be unseen by a third party. If the senior pastor is just letting the person slide by just because... that's weird and I don't know what I would do. Pray and seek the ultimate authorities counsel, God.

3. alcohol consumption in the life a leader? (sin? not sin?)

Okay. The way I see it is this. We have all heard and read that technically if you are of age and not getting drunk that having a beer is not a sin. This is what I think though. If you are a leader, I don't think there is any reason why you should have 1 beer, even if it's in your home. This is the reason. As leaders we need to hold ourselves to higher standards period. So let's say someone is struggling with alcohol and they never see you drink your 1 beer. But what if they ask you about it? You can respond "No I don't drink" and be lying, which is a sin. Or say "Yes I drink, but only 1 beer once a week" (or enter your own scenerio". Now you have set an example for the person who has an addiction (or struggle... whatever) with alcohol and even though it's 1 beer they may then say well Leader "enter any name" has 1 beer a week so I can do it. Causing them to sin as the 1 beer leads to 12 because of their addiction. Therefore having 1 beer may not be a sin if you are never questioned about it. But what if you are? Is 1 beer a week worth losing your authority to speak truth and life into someone else's life? Come on now! If your a leader step up! Not to mention that NOTHING good comes from alcohol, I won't even go there. As a leader you should not even associate yourself with it. In America, I can't speak for all countries, but in the good ol' USA there is a plunder of clean drinking water and any other sort of flavor of beverage you may prefer... why walk the line as a Christian and/or leader and even consider beer a choice? And honestly I don't think just leaders should stay away from alcohol. As a Christian period you should hold yourself to a higher standard above the world. If we as Christian's want to fit into the world that bad... we should check our hearts and ask God to reveal some stuff!
(Is it obvious I have an opinion about this? =)...)

4. leaders who continue in slander and gossip?

I used to have a huge problem with this, so if it were me slandering and gossiping please tell me! As Christians, continuosly adjusting our standards higher, we should be open to constructive criticism, loving correction, and challenges. I am not perfect and am constantly challeged by avoiding gossip and slander... we all fall short sometimes. But if it is consistently a problem then you should talk to the person and set up accountability and prayer for it.

Christina

John, Christina, and Hannah said...

Not to mention that in order to have beer in your home it will need to be purchased... Beer generally needs to be purchased in packs/bottles of 6 or more. What would it look like walking past your leader in the store carrying a 6 pack..... At that point it is unknown that it takes you a year to drink that 6pack and mistakenly assumed your drinking it during tomorrow's football game or whatever. Is your accredibility worth it?

John, Christina, and Hannah said...

And my CREDIBILITY may not be very good on the subject due to my mispelling and use of words that don't exist... but you get the point! =) I'll stop hogging the comments now!

Lorelei said...

Oh gosh, I've already told you that this post intimidates me, so I'm just going to conquer one of the issues that's been recent in my life, mostly because GU sucked up my brains and energy (in the best way possible) so we'll see how far I get.
That's right... #3:
I used to hold the view of 'each has their own conviction' (which is biblical), but I have upped the anty on mixture in my life which required some Holy-Spirit-Mindset-Tweaking. So, our generation that we're to reach with life and light is in deep death and darkness and a lot of that can be attributed to alcohol and drugs in general. It's not a light matter that millions are dying (physically and spiritually) because they're trying to forget the pains of life through mental numbness. If drinking is destroying a generation we've been commanded to save, then why do we, the church, so often try to relate to them with casual flippancy towards the tools of death the enemy is using in their lives? This is not about who's doctrinally correct. This is about exchanging our comfort for the cross of Christ, this is about laying down our lives for the generation just like Jesus laid His down for us, this is about us walking in transformation, guarding our passion at all cost, being holy as God is holy, and asking the dying generation to follow us as as we follow Christ; unsatisfied until we have finished and attained the crown so that we may throw it before the throne and worship in spirit and in truth, forever in the presence of the Living God. Why do we get caught up in legalities; in pharasitical religiosity vs. tolerant complacency? The Word of God, which is life, says, "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world." James 1:27
For me, that speaks for itself. I personally don't want anything in my life that would hinder this generation from leaving death to walk in life. That doesn't mean I'm making a claim to perfection, that just means I want to be Jesus to these kids as much as possible, which is an aim that doesn't leave a whole lotta' room for the world, or myself, or the enemy to occupy. I'm fine with higher standards and stronger boundaries because their lives are worth it. No one can make any difference without first being different. Much love in Christ and no offenses meant.

Bondservant said...

Hey man! Tonight we saw I believe it was 12 saved, six healed and two delivered from demons. Worship was off the hook and God brought a Word from heaven. A young girl felt someone come up behind her and give her a huge hug while we were leading worship and from there had a open vision of Jesus walking through the crowed hugging people and after wards came up and stood right next to me while I lead a time of free worship. While that was going on she saw angels filling the room and worshiping with us.
Let us keep our eyes on heaven; our home and future:) HE'S COMING!!!

Jonathan said...

Kristin, Lorelei, and Christina - I appreciate all of your insights so far...I am really enjoying reading your perspectives.

Anyone care to weigh in on #4?

Lorelei said...

#4 The Church doesn't slander or gossip, so...
Just kidding. I know this is a huge deal within the church and I know that I still deal with this every day. It'd be nice to write it off as the 'curse of my gender' but that's lame, so I won't.
I am glad to be a part of a church where the pastor is continually reminding us that the power of life and death is in the tongue; so speak life. I need to hear that more often than not. I believe the proper response to leaders who continually slander and gossip is to address where the disunity in their spirit is with the vision of the church and deal with that issue. However simple that may sound, I'm sure in actual execution it's going to take some godly counseling and confrontation of the matter, otherwise that disunity will continue to spread and bring gaps in relationships in the church and hinder the vision from God for what the church is to accomplish.
Ultimately, the slandering leader needs to have a revelation of Jesus who came, not to judge, but to seek and save that which was lost, to take on His character, heart, and mindset, and to refuse to take offenses. Then, to go ahead and continue in that by the enabling power and grace of the Holy Spirit and mend relationships broken by previous gossip and slandering. I guess, I don't know, but that's as much of it that I'm gonna' write, so... Jonathan, I'm waiting to read the book you're going to write on this blog. And when are you guys going to come visit?

Caleb and Ashley Brown said...

Starting to sound fun around here...I love the perspectives so far. I wonder if any of these perspectives will land in lives and adjust anyone. I think I have been challenged to re-think some of my mindsets. I am enjoying the thoughts and the sharing!

Leen said...

i think this topic is such a tough one... i myself am highly affected by the actions and convictions that i see in the life of the leaders above me, in all issues i think it's a case of standing for complete righteousness verses giving to a little bit of compromise, in one area or the other...which always seems to be ok but in my experience a little compromise leads to a little more and a little more until the original frame of reference is no where in site.
known sin in a leaders life is the worse, but worse yet when the leader is living in that sin unrepentant and is has to be brought up by someone other than that leader.
alcohol, such a tough one, i have several friends who "casually" drink. i never will because I've seen the extreme effects of alcohol up close and personal in the life of someone close to me.
it all comes down to the huge issue, nay question or struggle of how to live in this world full of sin and hurt and ugliness and not be of it... and remembering all the while that Gods forgiveness is unlimited and unyielding... as we try our hardest to hear his voice and live by his will, day in and day out.
looking forward to heaven more and more each day
--

joann renee said...

This is my oar being thrown in: these (especially #3) are not black and white issues. And, Seth, hooray.

Caleb and Ashley Brown said...

Joann! I laughed out loud at your comment. I am glad that you did indeed clarify that they are not black and white issues. We would love for you to bring your shade of grey to the conversation. Who wants Joann's opinion on all four? We love you Joann and would love to hear what is processing in your mind and spirit on these issues. Join the friendly grey bloviations...

joann renee said...

Well, since you worded it so nicely. :)

Numbers 1 & 2 get the same response from me. Several options: pray for them (which you should be doing anyway, regardless), understand that all have sinned (yourself & leaders included) & that there are no perfect human leaders, know that God is the ultimate judge. Also, consider finding another leader/church--with respect given to your previous leader/church (constantly checking for bitterness in your own spirit). Leave the rest up to God, unless He clearly tells you to confront them, in which case trust God for the words, & approach them in utter humility & respect.

Number 3: I went for years not consuming alcohol for reasons stated over and over in the previous comments. Then I began to notice a judgmental attitude in me towards Christian leaders who drank. I decided to put an end to that then and there. Now I drink occassionally. I don't care if leaders drink as long as: a) they do it in moderation, b) they aren't disobeying a specific conviction from God, c) they are considerate to those around them who do have convictions or drinking problems and, most importantly, d) they don't try to hide it (don't shout it from the rooftops, but if you're ashamed about it, then you probably aren't as convinced about your convictions as you should be, bringing us back to point b). I also have no problem with leaders who don't drink. That's between you and God (although I've now made it between me and God and everyone reading this).

Number 4: see my response to 1 & 2. With the additional thought: if you stay under those leaders & are around them, refuse to join in the conversation. In fact, politely leave the room when a conversation comes up & don't try to solve the problem by talking about the incident to everyone (adding gossip to gossip never helps...although, heaven knows, I've done my share of it, unfortunately).

My ultimate response is to let God be God, worry about your relationship with God, not where others are at, and let God choose your battles for you -remembering that we are anxious and troubled about many things while only one thing is necessary.

Lorelei said...

Bloviation? Dang, have we been speaking pompously? Man, probably, I guess.

Brent and Virginia Earwicker said...

I'm coming into the conversation a little late, and lots of things have been said, but let me give the collective Ugandan perspective that I would expect from any number of local pastors I know:

#1) Ignore that other stuff and continue on in the ministry God has given you. There are too many souls out there to win and we don't have time to argue with people who want to pick a fight.

#2) There's Biblical protocol? We like to make up our own rules, usually including announcing people's sin from the pulpit right off the bat before rumors get a'spreadin'

#3) People who drink alcohol are on their way to hell. Repent and leave your life of sin, or choose eternal death.

#4) I don't speak the language(s) here well enough to know the stance on this one. But I do get talked about quite a bit (I can pick out my name "Muzungu" while they laugh and point)

Now I haven't yet endorsed these positions, I just wanted to throw them into the mix so you could all see where we're coming from. I'll try to find some time to actually answer these questions later when my eyes are working a little better.

I really like Seth's perspective on it all - "Guys, let's save the world, Jesus is coming back!"

Off to bed...

Anil Philip said...

Hello Caleb,
Just wondered if you were referring at least in part to Church of the Harvest, your former employer.
I had a sense in my spirit that you were. You can reply to my email address if you wish.
Anil
anil [dot] rita {at} gmail